Online Program

Interconnectedness of parents' relationship functioning and mental health

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 9:10 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Trace Kershaw, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Heather Sipsma, PhD, College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Alethea Desrosiers, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Tamora Callands, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Tashuna Albritton, PhD, MSW, School of Medicine/Psychiatry, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Urania Magriples, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Derrick M. Gordon, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, Division of Prevention and Community Research, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Few studies have looked at how partners influence each other's mental health, the influence of relationships on mental health, and the influence of mental health on relationships. This may be particularly important across pregnancy and early parenthood, when stress is heightened. Data are from a longitudinal cohort of adolescent females (ages 14-21) and their male partners followed from pregnancy through 1 year postpartum. Structural equation modeling assessed lagged effects across time for depression, stress, and relationship satisfaction. Results showed that males' and females' depression did not significantly relate to their partner's subsequent depression. However, for stress, more female stress during pregnancy predicted increased stress of their male partner at 6-months postpartum (β=.127. p<.05). In addition, higher male relationship satisfaction at 6-months postpartum predicted higher relationship satisfaction of their female partner at 12-months postpartum (β=.122. p<.05). Among males, higher relationship satisfaction predicted subsequent lower depression at 6-months postpartum (β=-.164. p<.05) and 12-months postpartum (β=-.138. p<.05). Whereas for females the opposite effect was found; more depression predicted lower relationship satisfaction 6-months postpartum (β=-.118. p<.05), and 12-months postpartum(β=-.184. p<.05). Results suggest mental health and relationship satisfaction of one member of a couple can influence the other member of the couple. Further, we showed the complicated association between relationship satisfaction and mental health and how it differed by gender. For males, poor relationships influenced mental health; whereas for women mental health influenced relationship satisfaction. There is a need of couple based interventions during pregnancy and parenthood that improve mental health and strengthen relationships.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify the mutual influence of depression and stress between male and female partners from pregnancy to one-year postpartum Assess the mutual influence of relationship functioning between male and female partners from pregnancy to one-year postpartum Identify the influence of relationship functioning on depression and stress for young parents over time by gender Identify the influence of depression and stress on relationship functioning for young parents over time by gender

Keyword(s): Adolescents, Maternal and Child Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the PI on multiple federally funded grants on sexual risk, reproductive health, and maternal child health
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.